Sunday, April 1, 2012
Less is more in spring
Spring is beautiful, but also stormy, moody, tumultuous. On the 70 F. days people wander around like happy zombies, stoned on the good weather. But then the next day it turns blustery with a wet chill that goes right to the bone. I don't see as many happy zombies on stormy Spring days. There's outrage among us, a sense that Spring is SUPPOSED to be ... well? ... What IS spring supposed to be? It seems like it SHOULD be 70 F with sun and fluffy clouds, perhaps a slight breeze, low humidity - you know - perfect every single day from March 21 to summer solstice. But the weather is hardly ever perfect in Spring. It's the same every year, yet somehow, we forget.
The demands of the season are hard on the human body, psyche and heart. Getting jerked around by the weather disrupts the endocrine system. When hormones get jostled, there will be tumult. Ah, Spring!
Sometimes Spring wears us out. The color and greenery and changing landscape, the scads of people who have been hibernating all winter suddenly emerging from their cozy burrows can be overwhelming after a peaceful winter parked in front of the ipad. The streets are full of flip flops and barking dogs, and suddenly we have an urge to get out there, too. Spring is a sensory overload.
It's easy to get sunburned at this time of year even though the sun doesn't yet feel hot. The urge to keep walking, biking, hiking or whatever it is you're doing outdoors, and the fact that you haven't been outside in several months sometimes means you'll stay outside all day, resulting in the inevitable sunburn. May I say here and now, and get it over with: I very rarely use sunscreen. When my skin starts to burn, I get out of the sun. This seems like common sense to me. Right? When your skin burns, that reflects your entire constitution's ability or inability to tolerate strong sunshine. When you start to burn, whether that's after 5 minutes or 5 hours, you need to get out of the sun. Very fair skinned people especially should carry parasols or wear long sleeves and wide brimmed hats.
Any day now I expect someone will discover that the reason we're suffering from a nation-wide Vitamin D deficit is because we no longer expose our skin to the sun. Sunshine on your skin is the best, most efficient way for your body to produce Vitamin D. If you wear sunscreen all the time, the only way to get Vitamin D is through milk or pills. Why?
Sunscreen creates a chemical reaction to keep your skin from burning (unless you're coated with zinc oxide or some other sunblock). We really have no idea what the ramifications are from consistent use of these chemicals. I bet they're bad for us. Want to bet?
Enough about sunscreen!
In Chinese medicine, Spring is the time when the liver is in a mood to cleanse. You want to help your liver, believe me. In western medicine, more than 5,000 functions are assigned to the liver. In Chinese medicine I'm sure the liver is just as important. You want to keep your liver healthy. Indeed!
The most important part of a Spring cleanse is to not eat too much. Less is more in Spring! Err on the side of leaving the table slightly hungry; give your poor digestive system a break. Drink lots of filtered water. There are foods that enhance the cleanse, such as olive oil, lemon, pears, apples, and fruit with pits like nectarines, if you can get them this early in the season. Foods to avoid include high fat foods, also nuts and nut butters. You don't have to do it forever. Just a few weeks of a slightly altered diet will support your liver as it does its Spring cleaning.
Please don't go on one of those harsh seven-day fasts. Fasting is very hard on your heart, liver and kidneys. Less is more in Spring!
Take it easy with the Spring cleaning, please? Yanking heavy boxes off the top shelf of your closet after biking all day is probably not a good idea. I'm always in favor of a good ole bout of what I call a cleaning frenzy, especially in Spring. Clean out, purge, let go - it's part of the season. Try not to go overboard. It's hard, please try.
The only exception to the less is more rule is sleep. Sleep more than you usually do, if you can. Take naps, go to bed early, sleep in. Along with the chaos of Spring comes the need to integrate and process. Sleep is the basis of every kind of healing for every kind of malady. I'm not saying Spring is a malady, but it isn't easy.
Spring is crazy.
I love spring.
I hate spring.
Less is more in Spring, in terms of attempting to navigate the season from a place of balance. Ha ha. Good luck!